Why We're On the Slow Route to Early Retirement

Why We’re On the Slow Route to Early Retirement

Our family is on the slow route to early retirement. Our story will never be shared on big news outlets because it just isn’t that interesting: “Couple saved money for 15 years to retire in their late 40s!” – 12 years? late 40s? But this is a conscience choice for us.

Why we’re heading to early retirement

The “Why” is always the most important question about a journey to early retirement. In our case, it’s not because we hate our lives now. It’s because we would rather take money out of the equation. Mr. T doesn’t love his job, but he also doesn’t hate it. He’s not the one stuck at work with tight deadlines, no sleep, panic attacks googling: “How do I retire early?”

In fact, the only reason we happened upon the FIRE movement is because Mr. T was threatened with a lay-off. After spending a solid ten months of his life applying for jobs he wasn’t really excited about, but still not getting, Mr. T expressed that he never wanted to apply for a job again.

This trigger got my research-geek side out of me and I discovered a whole world of people that were trying to do the same thing: never apply for another job again! It turns out this group was retiring early! Also, after spending ten months helping Mr. T apply for jobs while also co-parenting and writing my masters thesis, I also didn’t want to return to that stress. And I had previously expressed my thoughts that it is so unfair that the most important working years coincide with the most important years for our children. Why did parents have to spend so much time trying to build careers at the same time their children were trying to figure out how to walk and talk and learn?

Those concerns and my research led us to make a very tentative plan of me saying: “If we had half a million dollars in the bank, would you feel comfortable leaving work?” Though he didn’t commit to a solid “yes,” I started building toward that. The worst that could happen is Mr. T kept working and we have a large savings. No downside.

What we’re not willing to give up

Now that our plans have changed a bit since that initial plan, we are working toward an actual retirement with over a million dollars in savings, but we just aren’t willing to give up a lot of things to get there quickly.

This goes back to the fact that the most important time in my childrens’ lives is now. They’re so curious and inquisitive. They don’t yet think we’re lame. They love hanging out as a family.

Most people have to wait until they are retired to be able to take their family on a 27-day trip to Europe. Mr. T, however, gets 6.5 weeks of vacation time and is actually allowed to take it whenever he wants. We’re not willing to give up our family trips to retire early.

Mr. T also has a really flexible job. He works a little bit longer for 9 days so he can take every other Monday off. He is also able to work from home some days if I have appointments and he can make up work later if the kids have important events at school. In short, Mr. T is there for our children. A lot of jobs don’t have that capability. If we’re trying to retire early to be there for our children, we would be sacrificing time now to get there by the time they are teenagers. Not worth it for us.

I’m a stay at home mom. If I worked full time, we could get there much quicker. But we’re not willing to give that up. In 2 years, when Lui is in kindergarten, I’m sure I’ll be working more than I currently do, but I don’t plan to ever work full time while the kids are home.

What trade-offs are worth it for you?

For now, we’re sacrificing a bigger house and some savings in order to be able to retire early. Everything is about trade-offs. Sacrificing now so you can set yourself up for the future is the name of the game. For us, we’re making a conscious choice to sacrifice less now and take the slow route to FIRE.

What does your journey look like? What are you willing to give up? Are you on the slow route to early retirement?

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14 Comments

  1. I’m not willing to give up anything that keeps me healthy. So, I COULD freelance more on the side from my full time job, but I would be sitting more, staring at a computer more, not getting outside, moving my body, etc. I also don’t like sacrificing grooming to reach FI. I have short hair that needs to get cut every 6-8 weeks or so. I COULD let it grow longer but it looks awful and stringy, and I’m still single so…. lol! Plus how I look on the outside does reflect the inside and vice versa. NOT that I spend a lot to look put together though. I don’t buy fancy purses or shoes or anything of that kind of stuff. But hey if that’s someone else’s thing… I AM willing not to travel as much or as exotic to reach FI sooner. I could take another fab trip next year but instead I’m sticking closer to “home” and maybe doing a road trip.

    • MaggieBanks

      AMEN! Too many people try to kill themselves getting there. Not worth it.

  2. JP

    Maggie, I love this: “It is so unfair that the most important working years coincide with the most important years for our children. Why did parents have to spend so much time trying to build careers at the same time their children were trying to figure out how to walk and talk and learn?” We had our daughter at the beginning of this year and this is one reason that we are probably on a slow route to early retirement, too. I don’t want to sacrifice these early years we have with her just to retire a few years before she leaves the nest. For me, saving and investing means we have the financial flexibility to make lifestyle changes that align with our values – spending time with our daughter.

    • MaggieBanks

      Children change everything. And I really do think it’s totally unfair that people have to work during those very hard and important years!

  3. When Mrs. SSC left her job for the teaching gig, we gave up 6 figures off her salary. It slowed our plans down by a few years, but it came with WAY more flexibility and schedule enhancement for the family. I also get the 9/80 schedule which helps some, but it’s still challenging. We realized with this new schedule, that we both really like our current jobs and lifestyle, so we’re fine keeping it up for a few more years than needed.

    We’re willing to give up some things, like salary which would’ve sped up our plan and we could maybe be done by now or at worst next year 1st quarter after bonuses and what not came out. 🙂 We’re not willing to give up our happiness just to hit a number though and that’s what was getting sacrificed in that last situation. Now that life is different, and we’re happy, there isn’t such a push to make a mad dash to the finish line anymore.

    When you like your jobs, lifestyle and situation, it makes it easier to enjoy it and be on the slower path to early retirement. Like you, noone is going to write a news article about us because we’ll be in the same boat, “Couple lives below means and saves for 10-12 years and retires in their mid-40’s”. Riveting!! lol

  4. Slow and Steady. Love your attitude about building wealth. We have the same game plan and 2017 has been a great year for wealth accumulation. We are in the same boat in creating experiences. We do not give up maximizing all our retirement accounts though. We max them all out which does eat up an enormous amount of income. We had many past dumb years and climbed the debt mountain to finally eliminate that from our lives. Doing that did not allow us to invest too much in our younger years missing out on years of compounding interest. We are in catch up mode now and soon will be hitting 50 to be able to invest even more. I am planning on us being first millionaires but the journey will need to continue. But we try to create very affordable family experiences; hiking, skiing, biking and playing as a family. Someday we will do those big trips but right now we do not feel we are missing out. Stay Focused on the Goal!

    • MaggieBanks

      After paying off the house, I’m hoping to get to the “maximizing all of our retirement accounts stage!” 🙂 Well done you guys!

  5. This is almost my planned journey to a tee!

    I prefer to stay out of the whole FIRE discussion because my goal of retiring around 50 doesn’t feel ‘early’ enough to count. I enjoy my job and have enough flexibility to do the strings I want whole still earning a good income. Striving to retire much earlier would leave me wanting now, and that’s just not something I’m willing to do.

    Great post Maggie!

    • MaggieBanks

      Yay, Sarah! I love hearing people are on the slow route along with us. No media attention. Nothing magic. Just slowly saving more than our peers so we’ll be able to finish working earlier than peers and on our terms!

  6. I hustled my butt all the way up to this point but I’ve learned, from my own experience and from advice from 2nd Dad, that this time with my family is precious and I can’t ever get it back so I’m not willing to take on a full second job to make more for the retirement till. I’m not willing to press for responsibilities (and visibility in the field) that could translate into a lot more money at the first job where it may involve more travel. For this period, I want to be here, not traveling for work.

    We’re not giving up on travel, we’re pacing it a bit. Neither of us have quite the kind of time off that we’d like to have annually to do an awesome trip like yours but I’ve rustled up a lot of points and miles to fund it instead of spending too much cash. I’m sure there are other things we’re not giving up but they’ll occur to me at some strange time. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh yes! There’s a long list of things we’re not willing to give up that I remember at the strangest times! Let’s not kill ourselves on the way there!

  7. “After spending a solid ten months of his life applying for jobs he wasn’t really excited about, but still not getting, Mr. T expressed that he never wanted to apply for a job again.”

    That says it all, Maggie. At some point in my early 40s, I had the same epiphany. I wanted to be financially strong so I never again had to be held hostage to another person’s approval. And who says your story isn’t riveting? Anyone who is financially independent before he or she hits 50 is a rockstar in my book. Great post, Maggie. You made me think, as always.

    • MaggieBanks

      Ha ha ha. Riveting, for sure. I know. I actually look forward to still having the blog when we do eventually retire and having all the haters come out of the woodwork and say: “Impossible” even though we have like a solid 10 years of all of our numbers published. 🙂

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